Lunafest explores women’s issues

There’s the one about the Grecian woman whose power has been cut off, and armed with her tiny bit of remaining money, she sets off to battle the electric company only to meet a woman searching through trash cans for food.

Another film features a team of go-get-’em grandmas who’ve played basketball for almost two decades, winning countless medals for their team called the “Fabulous Seventies.”

These are two of nine films in Lunafest, a festival of short films created for and about women. The traveling festival, which has toured the U.S. and Canada for 14 years, is coming to Altoona March 27 to benefit Family Services Inc., Altoona.

Lunafest is sponsored by the creators of Luna Bars, a product manufactured for women by Clif Bar and Co. Nonprofit agencies like Family Services can host Lunafest in their communities and receive 85 percent of the proceeds from the festival. The remaining 15 percent goes to the Breast Cancer Fund, which focuses on links between breast cancer and the environment, concentrating primarily on prevention, according to the group’s website.

The idea to start Lunafest came from Kit Crawford, one of the co-owners of Clif Bar, who is also a fan of the arts, said Lunafest’s program manager Suzy Starke German.

Crawford wanted the festival to both help nonprofit causes and also aid women film directors, whom she felt were at a disadvantage in the film industry, German said.

“There are a lot of films directed by women out there,but unfortunately we don’t have great distribution channels for them,” she said.

The festival has raised more than $1.25 million for nonprofits in 190 communities since its inception through last fall and $660,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund, German said. The current roster of films was chosen from a field of 950 films submitted last year, German said.

This is the first appearance for Lunafest as a benefit for Family Services, said Lisa Hann, executive director for Family Services. She said the fundraiser was suggested by a supporter of Family Services because Lunafest was successful for a nonprofit in State College.

The money that is raised for Family Services will go in its general fund but “be targeted for services to women in our Domestic Abuse Project, Family Shelter and anywhere in our agency where there are unmet needs specific to women,” Hann said.

The film festival in Altoona coincides with this month’s celebration of Women’s History Month, which she said provided a chance to showcase the accomplishments of women and help them at the same time.

“We felt the timing was perfect to offer something in the community for women, during Women’s History Month, to benefit women,” she said. “It will be a new experience for the women of Blair County and hopefully it can become an annual event.”